A 1.3 million square foot office proposal aims to expand Redwood City’s burgeoning technology sector by increasing its office inventory by over one-fifth its current size. San Francisco-based real estate firm Jay Paul Company expects the proposed space to be home to technology firms seeking a home between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, which would follow the recent move of online storage company Box to the Peninsula city.
The proposed Harbor View Place project will still have to receive final city approval before construction on the four nine-story buildings can begin. The development was the subject of a recent public hearing earlier this month where members of the community were invited to provide their feedback. While most residents criticized the environmental repercussions and possible traffic congestion from the influx of new office workers, some also praised it for the additional jobs it would bring to Redwood City.[contextly_sidebar id=”BtPZRDVgzb7WKWCc4ynNuo1MYpaAUAnL”]Additional concerns over the impacts of workers moving to the city raised questions about how the project would affect the city’s housing supply. Others such as union workers praised the employment and wealth the project and future renters could bring to the city.
The massive 27.06-acre proposal outlines 1,310,662 square feet of office space, which would effectively increase by almost one-fifth the current 5,170,380 square feet of office inventory in the city. Amenities in the project include 45,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, in addition to a rooftop garden with a view of the bay and a fitness center. Two parking structures and surface parking will total 4,369 spaces.
The proposed development is located in proximity to one of the main transportation thoroughfares in the Bay Area, Highway 101 at Blomquist Street and Seaport Road. And while it is not directly adjacent to a a Caltrain stop, the developers have proposed a shuttle service directly to the city’s Caltrain station.
Most of the public comment from the residents expressed doubt about the development’s benefits to the city. For its part, Redwood City recognized the need for the public to express their feedback and extended the initial 90-day review period by an additional 40 days in order to receive adequate amount of discourse. The meeting was the last chance for residents to voice their opinion following a 130-day review period by the city and its planners.
Most of the feedback was not in favor the development. “It’s a backdoor into a change. This is not what we want to have happen,” said Redwood City resident and Sierra Club representative Gita Dev about the project’s change since the original proposal was made in 2014. “There is something extremely wrong with the whole process.”
Other residents echoed Dev’s concerns explaining that the project does not meet minimum CEQA requirements as presented in the Environmental Impact Report. The planning site was found to contain toxic sediments that could be disrupted if proper excavation was not conducted, one resident argued based on the report’s finding.
Some residents also expressed concern that the increase in the working population in such a large office space would also negatively impact the housing market. New employees could result in congested streets and in some cases an increase in demand to live in the vicinity, impacting the housing market negatively.
One estimate by a public nexus study suggested that given the increase in office square footage, 1,000 new affordable homes would need to be build to ease the subsequent housing demand.
The contentious topic of affordable housing was brought up numerous times at the hearing with public fears that the new plan would displace many low and medium-wage earners such as teachers and nurses. “There’s a shocking and glaring need for affordable housing,” said 15-year resident Chris Johnson.
One additional group that strongly voiced their opposition to the development was the waterfront floating community of the Docktown Marina. People currently reside where construction of the Inner Harbor plan is expected to commence, which would effectively displace them once development begins. A resident of the waterfront community, Lee Callister, said, “the fate of Docktown now rests with the elected commissioners at the head of the states land commission. If there is no place for us to move that would mean an end to this vibrant valuable community after half a century.”
While residents largely agreed on their disproval of the plan, a number of union workers celebrated the jobs that the proposed development would bring to the region. James Regomez, who represents around 16,000 workers who are part of the Build and Construct Trade Council of San Mateo said that “by moving forward tonight the commission will provide more good paying jobs with benefits for our members and their families.”
Sheet Metal Workers Union representative Victor Torreano celebrated the proposal highlighting the construction jobs and wages the project would bring. “By moving forward tonight the commission will provide more good paying jobs for members and their families,” he said.
The hearing wrapped up the 130-day long public review period, which began last year. What remains is a final review decision by the Redwood City Planning Commission, which if received without delay could kick of development and deliver occupancy as early as the third quarter of 2017.